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Mumbai/Bengaluru: MN. Srinivasu, Ajay Kaushal and Karthik Ganapathy were colleagues at consulting firm Arthur Andersen when they set out to found BillDesk as an online payments bridge between banks, consumers and vendors in 2000. Twenty-one years later, they will together walk away with $1.44 billion in exchange for their collective 30.84% stake in the business.

Prosus, the investment arm of the South African internet group Naspers, has agreed to buy BillDesk for $4.7 billion and merge it with its own PayU payments business.

The transaction to buy BillDesk is an all-cash deal to buy out all the shareholders, said Prosus CEO Bob van Dijk.

This means larger investors such as General Atlantic, TA Associates and Temasek Holdings will together cash out with $1.33 billion on a conservative estimate after BillDesk’s deal with PayU is closed.

“If this transaction goes through, it will be one of the largest cashouts registered for investors in the startup landscape after the Walmart-Flipkart deal. There have been good payouts through secondary transactions in OYO and Pine Labs. However, from an M&A perspective, this is the second largest. BillDesk has been largely capital efficient and hasn’t raised a lot of investments so far, keeping a healthy shareholding," said one of the individuals involved in the deal-making process.

The investment amounts of each investor could not be verified, but they are all making significant double-digit returns and will likely see multifold gains, two persons briefed on the deal said. The BillDesk founders, known to keep a low profile, have not raised more than $240 million in primary capital over the years, data collated by Traxcn said.

Srinivasu owns 11.4%, Kaushal 10.6% and Ganapathy 8.8% in the company. “The founders were pioneers; they built the payments industry we know today," one of the investors on the BillDesk cap table said.

The largest investor, General Atlantic, first invested in the company in 2015 alongside Temasek Holdings when the whole of BillDesk was valued at around 4,500 crore (approximately $650-700 million then). General Atlantic holds 14.81% in BillDesk now and will pocket at least $696 million at the price tag of $4.7 billion.

Temasek Holdings, which acquired stakes in the company in 2015 and 2018, now has shares worth $416 million. A Temasek spokesperson confirmed that the investor currently holds 8.87%.

TA Associates will get around $642 million just on this deal on its 13.66% stake.

TA Associates, which first invested in BillDesk in 2011 when it was valued at around 1,000 crore, made a partial exit when Visa Inc. entered the company in 2018. Including partial exits, TA is likely to make around $700-800 million, one of the people cited above said. Visa acquired a stake in BillDesk in 2018 in a mixture of primary and secondary transactions. Its 13.18% is worth $619 million.

Clearstone Capital Ventures first invested in the company in 2005 in a transaction that provided exits to several early stage investors such as Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Sidbi’s National Venture Fund for Software and IT industry.

The investors did not immediately respond to requests on their stake values.

ranjani.raghavan@livemint.com

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